[UPDATE IV:A new post on the ZP Machines Kickstarter page outlines an adjustment to the manufacturing schedule do to the overwhelming response this project has received. Also news later tonight about a dedicated 240v model of the Nocturn!]
[UPDATE III: Jason Dominy met with ZP Machines yesterday and Skyped with Igor to look at and talk about the machines thermoblock. Read Jason's thoughts here.]
[UPDATE II: In under 48 hours, the project has reached it's initial goal. Congrats to the team for attempting to answer the unmet demand for an affordable, high-quality espresso machine. Also, Jason Dominy, the current chair of the Barista Guild of America, will be meeting up with ZP Machines in Atlanta to talk about and test drive the prototype. More info as it arrives.]
[UPDATE I: Conversation with the creators on Reddit, answering questions]
This latest coffee-themed Kickstarter project is one with much more potential than a handful of metal beans—as long as it works as described. Two coffee lovers, one who studied physics and the other a roboticist, have been working to build a quality espresso machine that’s more affordable and accesible to the home barista.
Most coffee professionals won’t recommend many options for home espresso for less than the Rancilio Silvia, which costs about $700. So the effort by ZP Machines to create a machine of better quality and consistency—with a custom engineered thermal block and group head, as well as integrated PID temperature and pressure control—for just $300 could really shake up the market.
No other machine at this price point offers high-end quality, PID-controlled customizable temperature and pressure, pre-infusion, or shot-time —we do.
The team also spent time with their prototype at Octane and Land of a Thousand Hills in Atlanta, comparing shots and getting barista feedback. According to their pitch, their shots were comparable in quality to those pulled on the commercial espresso machines every time. A very bold claim, but fantastic if its true.
The proposed design reminds me of a Dieter Rams stereo, with an all metal body and clean geometric lines. It looks industrial and sturdy, yet modern and approachable—characteristics that I would appreciate in my kitchen.
With an estimated delivery date of March 2012 and a pre-order price of just $200, this sounds too good to be true. Let’s hope it’s not!
Coffee and love taste best when hot. -Ethiopian proverb
When my non-coffee loving friends begin sending me links to things before I’ve seen them, red flags immediately go up. This isn’t because I think I know everything about coffee, but if something has bypassed all the normal industry channels and immediately lands on the pages of non-coffee blogs, there is usually something gimmicky or blasphemous about its existence. Coffee Joulies happen to be both.
The creators of Coffee Joulies are currently raising money on Kickstarter. While they only needed $9,500 to begin production of their product, they’ve already raised over $134,000 with another 3 weeks left. That’s awesome for them—it really is. I support entrepreneurship and getting that kind of financial backing is a dream come true. They’re even going to produce them in the USA, reviving an old silverware factory and probably create more jobs than the US Government. However, their product is a joke.
In a video that demonstrates the Joulies ability to cool coffee, it takes less than 90 seconds to bring the temp of boiling water down to 140°F (60°C). Wicked fast, right? But here lies the ultimate problem with the product. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America, 160° (71°C) is the temperature when flavor and aftertaste are at their greatest intensity. Those flavors continue to evolve as it cools, with 160°–140° being the ideal temperature range to best note the acidity, body and balance of a coffee.
With a set of Joulies making your coffee race past both temperatures, it takes less than 90 seconds before you miss the opportunity to enjoy some of the best moments your coffee has to offer. You may be able to chug 3 minutes sooner, but you’re going to miss out on the coffee’s unique flavor notes the farmer and roaster worked so hard to discover and highlight—assuming it doesn’t look like the charcoal they used in the photo above.
For $40, you’re better off investing in a burr grinder, which many people fail to do. This will improve you’re coffee dramatically, as long as you can wait a couple minutes before you start sipping it. If you have a grinder, treat yourself to a couple bags of really nice Direct Trade coffee instead. While I’m constantly trying to get people to stop putting things in their coffee (cream & sugar), along comes someone asking them to drop a few steel “ice cubes” into their mug. How long before an eager coffee lover chips a tooth?
I’m tired of reading praise for design solutions to non-problems and seeing people—who seem to know very little about coffee—flooding the industry with more junk we don’t need. Who keeps a cup of coffee for 3 hours anyway? Even Starbucks dumps airpots in their store every 30 minutes if the coffee hasn’t been purchased because of quality loss.
They say there’s a sucker born every minute. In this case there’s over 2000 of them. Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for the punchline.